August 4, 1898
THE law of God is a law not only of prohibitions, but of power. It not only commands, Thou shalt not, but is an expression of the power of God for righteousness, to which power man has access through the gospel.
In this the law of God is as superior to the law of man as heaven is superior to earth.
To the Jews, speaking of the laying down of his life, Jesus said, “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” John 10:18. And all the commandments of God are expressions of his power.
It is a common idea that the commandments of God are the expression or measure of our power toward God—that by exerting our utmost endeavors we will be able to comply with the law, and therefore God requires it of us. But this is as far as possible from the truth. The commandments are the measure of God’s power toward us, even in our sins. Hopeless indeed would the sinner’s case be but for this.
The deeds of the law are infinitely beyond our human endeavors, but God has destined us for a station infinitely beyond that of fallen, erring humanity. Seen through the gospel, the law speaks to us of a power infinitely beyond our own, to lift us up from the plane of human frailty. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!”
And this is why it is that “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul,” and is seen in the motions of sun, moon, and stars, as described in the nineteenth Psalm; for in them all is the manifestation of his power.
This is why the believer is “not under the law.” Having exercised faith in Jesus Christ, the law of God—the power of God—is within him. He is not under the law, nor is he above it: but it is within him as his life is with him; for it is the life of God that is the power of God. He is not the under the law, but “under grace.”
But not so of the law of man. That can only supply man with the knowledge of its requirements; but in the domain of morality, knowledge is not power.
And thus it is only the worst foolishness for the legislatures of earth to think of reënacting the law of God, or of attaching penalties to the commands of that law.
No law of man was ever perfect, or ever converted a soul. The law of man is effective only in giving men freedom in the exercise of their natural rights.